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8-1-12: Solitary Confinement
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Gary Maynard, Maryland Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services, writes that "state regulations make it effectively impossible for Maryland's prisons to hold inmates in solitary confinement." But the state does use "administrative" and "disciplinary" segregation. A Baltimore Sun editorial says that covers eight percent of the state's inmates, and they can stay there for months and months.
What can land a Maryland inmate in segregated status, who decides who goes there, and what are segregated conditions like for inmates?
This Saturday and Sunday morning, there will be tours of the old Maryland House of Correction, which was closed five years ago. With the Maryland Historic Trust, the department is conducting tours to educate the public about correctional practices of the past. The building, which was called “The Cut,” is to be deconstructed next year.
The Vera Institute of Justice is partnering with the state to collect statistics about isolation practices and try to reduce the proportion of inmates segregated from the general prison population.
In his “Crime and Punishment” column in the Urbanite July 9, 2012, Michael Corbin said every correctional officer and prisoner he has interviewed spoke of widespread and regular use of administrative segregation.
In its July 9, 2012 editorial, the Baltimore Sun estimated that more than 1,700 inmates in Maryland prisons are held in administrative or disciplinary segregation.
Secretary Maynard responded to the Sun’s editorial.
The Washington Post editorial board concluded July 1, 2012 there’s no justification for solitary confinement in most cases.
The Senate subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights heard testimony June 19, 2012, that solitary confinement is widely used and has a devastating impact on prisoners’ mental health.
American Civil Liberties Union has collected information and resources about solitary confinement.
Sheilah asked Michael Corbin about the history of solitary confinement. It goes back to the early 19th Century, at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. This account includes the differing reactions of Alexis de Tocqueville and Charles Dickens.